Redmond High athletic director Brent Walsh shows off Ridgeview High like a proud parent.
As he should. The Redmond School District's new high school, which is scheduled to open in fall 2012, is downright awe-inspiring.
Walsh, who helped plan the athletic facilities at Ridgeview, last week gave Bulletin photographer Ryan Brennecke and me a tour of the $75 million, 280,000-square-foot new school, located in the southern part of Redmond along Old Bend-Redmond Highway. While the finishing touches are still being applied, Ridgeview's athletic facilities instantly become the crown jewel of Central Oregon as soon as they open.
“The possibilities are endless,” said Walsh, who envisions the school bidding to host Oregon School Activities Association state championship events sometime in the future.
Here's a few of the highlights we saw, starting with the venues that will house winter sports teams:
The baselines and bleachers are already painted and the OSAA seal is on the floor in Ridgeview's new gym, which including the main playing area and the auxiliary upper-level floor is 28,000 square feet. For comparison, the gym facility at Redmond High measures about 19,000 square feet.
Even with the bleachers fully extended, spectators will be 10 feet from the court boundaries. (So if you need to make a run to the restroom or concession stand during a game, you won't have to worry about being bowled over by a player or referee.) The high ceiling and exposed steel and wooden beams give the gym an urban industrial feel popular with current builders.
Ridgeview's gym is nice, easily one of the best high school gyms in the area. The school's wrestling room is state of the art, maybe one of the best in Oregon, high school or college.
“It's one of the nicest mat rooms in the entire state,” beamed Walsh, a longtime wrestling coach before going into administration.
Natural light fills the 4,000-square-foot room through skylights and windows that look out at the Cascade mountains. The room, located on the second floor of the school, is equipped with a whiteboard for the coaches, cubbyholes for shoes, a spit sink, and wall-to-wall speakers.
Outdoor athletic center
Ridgeview's football stadium, track, and baseball and softball fields — varsity and junior varsity — are best viewed as an ensemble. The complex has one main entrance, good for crowd control and for streamlined admission. And a concession stand and restrooms are part of the package.
The football stadium, with a seating capacity of 1,400, is the centerpiece of the setup. A press box on the home side houses multiple soundproof rooms for coaches and media. The field itself was built without a drainage crown, leaving a flat surface for the soccer matches that will be played at the stadium. The football practice field conveniently connects with the stadium itself.
For track and field, the stadium contains an eight-lane track and two pole vault pits. The jumping runway and pits are located on the west end of the football field, slightly below a small hill, which creates a natural seating area for spectators.
Approximately 40 feet southwest of the football stadium lie the varsity baseball and softball fields, both of which feature spacious dugouts and storage/changing rooms. The fields are situated less than 200 feet apart, making it possible for spectators to watch baseball and softball games at the same time.
East of the varsity baseball and softball fields sit two more diamonds, one each for junior varsity baseball and JV softball. The JV baseball field is expected to double as a soccer pitch.
While the room has yet to be equipped, it should be a dandy when it all comes together. The same size as the mat room — 4,000 square feet — Ridgeview's weight room looks from the outside like a Central Oregon CrossFit gym, complete with oversized windows and garage-door-style walls that can be raised when the weather is nice. Additionally, the weight room opens directly into the gymnasium and is adjacent to the training room.
The Ridgeview campus also includes eight tennis courts, a day-care center for teen parents, and maybe the most state-of-the-art performing arts auditorium in Oregon east of the Cascades — it reminded me of Eugene's Hult Center. The whole package, not just the athletic facilities, are first class all the way. The school's main entrance and its common area look like a small college's student union, complete with school merchandise store.
Walsh has already scheduled several athletic events for next year to showcase the new school. Ridgeview is set to host a four-team football jamboree in the fall as well as a freshman volleyball tournament. Next winter, the Adrian Irwin Memorial Tournament, a massive high school wrestling event staged annually in Central Oregon, will move from Bend's Mountain View High to Ridgeview. And Walsh expects to host a basketball tournament as well.
Was the $75 million price tag worth it? You'll have to ask a Redmond taxpayer. But without a doubt, Redmond has built a school and athletic facility that will be a source of pride for the city and the region for years to come.